Avengers: Age of Ultron in theory should be a gigantic conclusion to the second phase of the MCU. However, it’s not even the last film in the phase. An interesting fact before we start is that this movie actually came out 3 years ago today! Crazy how much time flies, I remember exactly where I was and when I went to go see it. While no this film is not terrible, it fails to make phase two feel like a huge event that same way phase one was. There was a huge hype to this film as the second Avengers. On top of that it would also have Ultron, a significant villain from the comics. But it didn’t exactly go the way people had hoped.
There’s a lot of articles and videos about there highlighting the problems about AoU. It’s quite crazy how vocal the dis-taste for this movie was when your realise it’s an Avengers movie. I think that shows off pretty immediately how flat this movie fell on its head. It’s not terrible either, but I feel there’s something about it that makes it more disappointing. At the time, the hype was that above the first Avengers but of course nothing like Infinity War is getting. I’m not entirely sure where the hype at the time came from, at least for myself. While there was a lot of excitement for Ultron it felt very disconnected in the rest of the phase.
Avengers worked because there was a solo movie for each of the main team members. Even the smaller one’s like Hawkeye had at least some screen time and Black Widow was a star of Iron Man 2. But when the second phase came around everyone seemed to be on their own adventure. Tony destroys his suits to stop his addiction. Cap takes down a corrupt government and vows to find his missing friend. Then Thor has just lost his brother and took out some mystic elves. After we get the main Avenger’s solo films we go to the Guardians who are pretty separate for the time being. Then all of a sudden everyone is just doing Avenger missions together, Tony has the suits back and Cap has just put Bucky on his list of things to worry about later.
While these are some glaring character problems that stick out for me, there are some nice scenes in the movie. The opening scene while not having a lot of context or purpose at least shows everyone working as a team. There’s some fun action and we give Tony a motivation to build Ultron in the first place. This however would serve more of a build up to Infinity War in the long run. There’s also a really fun scene where everyone is hanging out as friends together, just being a team. This scene works as they just became a team of friends after Avengers so there’s no reason to bicker at each other so soon. Civil War only splits them apart because it gives them a reason to, which is also a very effective way of doing so.
For me I was also happy to get Vision and Wanda. These are two very interesting characters with Vision especially being a core player with the Mind Stone of all things in his head. The whole thing would also link to Thor rushing off as he finds out they exist and what power they will bring. Which I should also mention brings me to maybe my favourite scene. Right at the beginning Wanda uses her mind powers to reveal the Avenger’s greatest fears. By using that Wanda is actually one of the driving forces that makes Tony build Ultron. But everyone gets some really personal visions as well.
Thor’s is very mystical in nature, as it takes him to Asgard. This is what raises the question for him with the stones and what is going on in the universe. Tony sees the end of his team, the death of the Avengers. After a PTSD ridden third film, this very idea haunts him. He knows that something will come again, while he doesn’t know it’s Thanos, he will do everything he can to prepare for it. Natasha gets some actual backstory so we can begin to see where her pain comes from. I really hope we get to see a sequel solo film for Natasha rather than a sequel. We don’t need to know what stuff she did in the past, we need to see what she can do next to correct that.
We’ve also got my favourite fear in the form of Cap. Poor Steve can never catch a break as he is transported to the 40’s. He goes for his dance with Peggy Carter and she tells him he can come home. This is terrifying for Steve in a lot of ways. The idea that there wouldn’t be a war for him to fight almost terrifies. He’s a soldier who can never live without a reason to fight. Also of course it’s heartbreaking for him to see Peggy again. He just wants to dance with her and I think the thought that he never did keeps him up at night.
Unfortunately while these scenes are interesting and fun, they only take up a few minutes of the entire run time. Quicksilver is brought up in a rush and dies just as quickly. For once I find the X-men Fox version of the character more interesting, and certainly more fun. Aaron Taylor Johnson was just so dull in the character and one of the only MCU actors I didn’t enjoy. Ultron was also numbed down from the haunting menace that we saw in the trailers. It felt like he was going to be a serious threat. Now while he is certainly a threat to the Earth, he goes around making quips and feeling more like a joke. There’s theories that he’s only acting like Tony and stuff like that, but I’m not interested if its not part of the official story.
Like I say, Age of Ultron isn’t the worst, but it sits down lower than most. It failed to deliver a hype that was only seen in the Avengers up to this point. This wasn’t even the end of the 2nd phase so it doesn’t feel like a convincing conclusion to all the events taking place. While it would have a huge part to play in the events of Civil War I feel like it shouldn’t have existed. If you take Civil War, push more onto the rest of the team and made it an equal part of a fight you could have just called it Avengers 2. However I still wouldn’t have done that personally. I like Civil War as a film that focuses on Captain America, especially since it builds up his motivations pretty well.
Overall I’m fairly disappointed in this film, but I can still have some fun watching it. I’ve seen it twice before this re-watch, and one of those times was in the cinema. I just don’t feel invested in the movie enough to actively go out and watch it multiple times like I have with Thor Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m not sure where this will sit in my overall rankings by the end. But I feel like watching this again has given me clarity on the stuff I enjoyed. Either way, the next time I see you will be the actual closer for the second phase so we can see what happens! Check me out again for Ant-Man!